4/20/2016

1936 Gibson-made Carson Robison KG-14-Style Flattop Guitar




I sold the same-year, same-model last year and like most KG-14s, this guitar is punchy, crisp, clear, and loud. It makes an ideal fingerpicking box and really suits country-blues and old-timey fingerpicking styles. This one came in quite clean due to long-term storage in its original chip case and it looks, basically, grand. The blacks in the finish are deep and dark and the sunburst is bright and popping. It's also entirely original, to boot.

Work included a fret level/dress, cleating and repair of 5 hairline top cracks (one longer one to the side of the lower-bout center seam, two smaller ones on either side of the fretboard extension, an open center seam just north of the soundhole -- those last 3 got a "popsicle" cleat/brace added below them, and a pickguard crack near the high E string), cleaning, reshaping of the (already-reshaped) original saddle, and a good setup. It plays with 3/32" action on the E&A and 1/16" action on the DGB&E at the 12th fret -- spot on.


This guitar is a Kalamazoo KG-14, though the labels and stencils are changed to reflect its sale via Montgomery Wards as their model 1281 -- a "Carson Robison"-endorsed model. This model later turned into the Recording King Model K and got a different headstock, but this one was made in '36 (according to its factory-order-number at the neckblock) and has the old-style Kalamazoo headstock shape. Fox Guitars has plenty of history to dig through on this subject.

Like a KG-14, the body is that "L-00" shape with a 14-fret neck joint, solid spruce top (ladder-braced), and solid mahogany back, sides, and neck. The board and bridge are both Brazilian rosewood and on these Wards-sold models both the nut and saddle are bone. This guitar even has all of its original celluloid pins, too, as far as I can tell.


For an old Kalamazoo-style guitar, this one is very clean (a lot of these were played hard). The nut width is 1 3/4" and the board is radiused with thin, smallish frets (almost full-height -- the neck is dead straight), and the neck profile is a medium-big V-shape.


The dots are pearl and I've strung this with a set in-between "11s" and "12s" in tension.


I love the firestripe pickguard! The top and soundhole are bound in cream celluloid.


The original bridge is slightly-reshaped on its front edge and I adjusted the already-adjusted original saddle for better compensation and height and then also string-ramped behind the saddle to give better break-angle on it (ie, better tone).

Note tiny chip-out of the bone saddle's corner on the low E side -- not an issue, but there.




The back and sides are entirely crack-free and while the guitar has minor (and usual) use-wear, the condition of the finish is overall very good for a '36.


I lubed the tuners and they work well.







The top has a little deflection in the usual Kalamazoo-style way: straight up like a "dome." As you can see there's still plenty of room above-deck to play on, though.



That's what's left of the original Wards sticker.


The original chip case (also in good shape) comes with it as well...


...as some pretty hip ephemera. I wish I could play guitar like the cowboys do...

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